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The shine (éclat) of absences: lacan on the feminine in the fifties

Lacan’s text, “Guiding Remarks for a Congress on Female Sexuality” (1958), is an important text in exploring Lacan’s conceptualisation of female sexuality in the fifties. The text however goes much further than this and discusses castration and the phallic function as well as Freud’s three lines of feminine development: normative femininity, frigidity and female homosexuality. The richness and complexity of the text presents the sexuality of women as a vast field that has been misapprehended by the psychoanalytic establishment. Lacan indicates that women are not reducible to the phallic equivalency to men and in fact this misunderstanding has significantly undermined and devalued the analysis of women. With the aid of a clinical vignette, this paper explores two of the three lines of female development, normative femininity and frigidity, in light of Lacan’s substantial elaborations in the text.